Fukushima’s Solution to Potential Melt Down? Frozen Ice Walls

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

On December 14th, 2014, RT News published an alarming article explaining that Japan’s destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant must decontaminate and then dump into the Pacific Ocean its stored radioactive water from the 2011 tsunami and meltdown disaster. According to the RT piece, the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations is calling on the Japanese government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) to ensure that the release of toxic water is safely below the required radiation levels. However local Japanese fishermen have expressed concerns over issues with radiation and water waste management at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

According to an article in the Japan Times published during March 2015, 300 tons of radioactive water from the TEPCO reactors accumulates daily. After a series of failed attempts to prevent the tainted water from leaking into the reactor basements, including a plan to build more steel storage tanks, the Japanese company hopes to solve the situation. Their plan? Encircling the reactors in a 1.5-km-long wall of frozen soil, in order to prevent groundwater (such as rain flowing to the ocean) from mixing with the toxic coolant water leaking into the damaged reactor basements. TEPCO continues to pump new water into the reactors daily to cool the melted fuel rods; the basements are too dangerous to enter. According to the Columbia Dispatch, 160 million gallons of contaminated water are stored on site, and 80,000 gallons of groundwater continue to enter the plant each day. TEPCO has future plans to drain the wells around the buildings in order to treat tainted water and discharge it into the Pacific Ocean. However, the plan to drain toxic water from the reactors cannot begin anytime soon. While the proposed ice wall is now seen as essential in slowing down the current disaster in Fukushima, the concerns among advisory groups in Fukushima is that a project of such magnitude is unprecedented and risky.

Fukushima’s developing story seems to be completely ignored by US corporate media, but is certainly gaining a lot of traction internationally and within US independent media. Truthout has been diligently covering the Daiichi plant disaster since the tsunami hit back in 2011. It published an article in October 2014 slamming US corporate media for failing to cover the disaster currently taking place in Fukushima. The Japan Times has slowly become more and more critical of the Daiichi plant and government involvement in the cover up, which is telling considering how censored Japan’s media is. RT news, Dispatch, and the Statesman Journal are a few other media outlets that are covering the new proposed plan to prevent a meltdown at the Daiichi plant. The potential release of toxic water into the Pacific Ocean should be of concern to every country and its citizens, and most likely would be if information on the potential disaster were more readily available to ordinary citizens.


Julie Makinen, “Fukushima inspectors: Dump water into ocean,” February 17, 2015, http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2015/02/17/fukushima-inspectors-dump-water-into-ocean.html.

Kazuaki Nagata, “Fukushima No.1’s never ending battle with radioactive water,” Japan Times, March 11, 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/11/national/fukushima-1s-never-ending-battle-radioactive-water/ – .VQ4nG2aoyA1.

Mark Karlin, “Mainstream US Corporate Media Ignore Increased Fukushima Water Radioactivity,” Truthout, October 15, 2014, http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/mainstream-western-media-ignore-increased-fukushima-water-radioactivity/1.

Tracy Loew, “Regulators: Treat, release Fukushima water to sea,” February 19, 2015, Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2015/02/19/nuclear-regulators-release-fukushima-water-sea/23650641/.

“Watchdog: Radioactive Fukushima water to be cleaned, dumped into Pacific,” RT, December 14, 2014, http://rt.com/news/214239-fukushima-radioactive-water-pacific/.

Student Researcher: Elora Malama West (Burlington College)
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (Burlington College)